2011 BMW X5 Performance

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Performance

Power and performance (on-road, at least) is where the X5 excels. Despite the clunky naming system, all of BMW's powerplants deliver the goods, though some do so better than the rest. New for 2011 is a revamped gasoline six- and eight-cylinder engine lineup, and a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

The base xDrive35i, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, gets a stout 300 horsepower. The diesel xDrive35d pushes 265 horsepower, but adds a bounty of torque--425 pound-feet from 1,750-2,250 rpm. The V-8 xDrive50i scores 400 horsepower, but pays the price with fuel economy at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. The gasoline inline six rates slightly better at 16/23 mpg, while the diesel is the winner in the X5 range, rated by the EPA at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.  The new eight-speed automatic transmission helps achieve these figures, and handles shifts smoothly and quickly whether driving sedately or pushing toward redline.

The performance and handling of the 2011 BMW X5 is superb, and the X5 M is almost without rival.

There's another mount in the stable as well, a fierce one: the 555-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 X5 M. It's more of an oversized performance hatchback than a big-engined SUV, but its fuel economy (12/17 mpg) and price tag ($85,000 and up) reflect that reality. Due to its extra power, the X5 M soldiers on with a six-speed automatic.

The 2011 BMW X5, like those before it, exhibits an uncanny ability to handle and turn for such a large, tall vehicle. It rolls quickly to its maximum angle, sets, and holds the road well. Transitional ability isn't as good as the sports car-like acceleration you can get, but that's to be expected with such a high center of gravity.

For those less apt to push the limits, there are sophisticated stability control, traction control, and all-wheel systems to help keep things in check during emergency maneuvers or low-traction conditions such as snow or heavy rain. The optional sport package adds 19-inch wheels, all-season run-flat tires, and BMW's AdaptiveDrive dynamic damping and stability control system that lets you push the X5 further while still providing a safety net. Even without it, hwoever, the X5 is the epitome of composure. The X5 M magnifies all of these traits to almost unbelievable levels.

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